It’s not important to live in the present — it’s absolutely necessary. There is no other place besides the present where life may be lived, even if one wanted more than anything else to choose an alternate destination.
So we must live in the present then. The genuine issue at hand is not whether we will live in the present, but whether our mental focus will join our physical body there.
Often the answer to this question is no: people spend much of their waking time in mental focus that alternates between future and past. But does this matter at all? Is it genuinely relevant whether we mentally occupy the present, or not?
It does if quality of life has much importance. Mentally occupying the past tends to bring on responses of regret and sadness, and can also trigger depression. Mentally occupying the future tends to bring on responses of anxiety and fear, and feeling overwhelmed.
Being outside of the present also reinforces an experience of chronic lack. The peace and contentment that every person would like to have is perceived as something that will be found in the future, or something that existed in the past. It’s chasing after the phantom called happiness, and never finding it and / or being able to hold on to it for long.
What about the present then? What’s so special about it? What is found there?
Being fully in the present amounts to having mental focus fully in the time space called now. The mind is not engaged in chatter or visualizations about unhappy past or stressful future. The mind is often quiet and at rest within the now, and is simply an observer of the life experience flowing from one now moment to the next now moment — no judgment of what happens, no analysis, no trying to grab hold.
When the mind is quiet like this a deep, extraordinary state of ease and peace comes into awareness. This state is referenced in various spiritual writings, including Biblical references …the peace that surpasseth all understanding… and …be still and know that I am God…This peace state is not an anomaly; in fact it is our authentic state. We do not know it typically because this authentic state is shut off behind a wall of mind output.
When we are present, when the mind is quiet, we regain connection with this authentic state and so have peace and contentment, but also have access to the spiritual energy and powers this presence brings.
Be still — be present — and know God.